The Feminine Mystique


Betty Friedan

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Feminine Mystique can help.

The Castration Complex Term Analysis

– According to Freudian theory, the moment in a boy’s psychosexual development when he notices the girl’s lack of a penis, which he had originally attributed to everyone, and equates her lack of a penis with having been castrated, that is, having had the penis cut off. The sense of being “castrated” is a symbolic loss that has less to do with the actual fear, in the case of the male, of losing the penis, and more to do with the loss of a unified sense of identity.
Get the entire The Feminine Mystique LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Feminine Mystique PDF

The Castration Complex Term Timeline in The Feminine Mystique

The timeline below shows where the term The Castration Complex appears in The Feminine Mystique. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: The Sexual Solipsism of Sigmund Freud
Nature vs. Nurture Theme Icon
Psychoanalysis and Sexism Theme Icon
Work Theme Icon
...the repressed wish. Conversely, boys who observe a girl’s absence of a penis develop “the castration complex ,” or fear of losing their masculinity. (full context)